An interview with 2012 Creative Composer’s Winner, Matthew Emery

Conservatory Canada’s second annual Creative Composer’s Competition was won by 21-year-old Matthew Emery for his work “Paths of Quiet Light.” The London, Ontario native is currently in his third year at the University of British Columbia studying music composition.

When did you start composing?

I began composing around age 15.

What inspired you to write “Paths of Quiet Light” and how long did it take you to compose?

“Paths of Quiet Light” was inspired while flying home for Christmas. I remember sitting on the airplane flying over the Rocky Mountains and seeing the sunlight reflect against the greenery of forests and the purity of the snowy peaks. I wanted to create a piece of music to capture the elegant light quietly reflecting off the peaks.

I wrote the initial idea of the course of a few days, and then spent two months revising and crafting the final product.

Can you tell me a bit about your Conservatory Canada experiences?

I began my relationship with Conservatory Canada studying piano with Patricia Mitsis in London, Ontario. It was there that the foundation for my musical progress began. I am deeply thankful for my time studying with her and her passion for music was and is still a great source of inspiration for me as a young composer. I fondly remember playing the Canadian compositions, particularly those of Jean Coalthard, David Gordon Duke and Stephen Chatman (who is now my Professor at UBC). I think it is wonderful to include Canadian Repertoire in the CC curriculum. I also was fortunate to study CC Theory with Peter Clements.

What role will music and composition play in your future life?

I plan to keep developing my skills as a composer by attending graduate school and then continue to get a doctorate in composition.

My goal is to make composing my full time career. I have already been incredibly fortunate to have had opportunities to compose for many outstanding musicians and ensembles both in Canada and the USA. I am looking forward to what the future brings.

What was your reaction when you found out that you had won this year’s Creative Composer’s Competition?

As soon as I found out the great news, I called my parents back home. At the time I was busy writing some new pieces, I took a break to check my email. Needless to say after I read the email from Victoria Warwick, I took the rest of the afternoon off to enjoy the afternoon sun and reflect on how lucky and grateful I was that the Canadian public not only voted for me, but took time to listen to six wonderful new pieces of music by Canadian composers. Conservatory Canada is doing a tremendous thing by supporting Canadian music and promoting it to their wide audience.

Is there anything else that you’d like to share?

Thank you to Conservatory Canada for the opportunity to compose and for their support of new and young composers. Thank you to the public for listening and for their support in voting. I would also like to share my sincere and humble applause to the other finalists for their expressive and artistic output.

Everyone who entered the competition this year should feel proud for creating their own song. It is a brave task to put ones essence or emotions on a piece of staff paper, let alone entering it into a competition to be judged by not only jurors, but also their peers and neighbors.

I hope this tradition and competition continues for year to come, so it may continue to foster young composers and to keep inspiring new songs.

To hear more of Matthew’s work visit


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